Introduction

The Similkameen Valley is unique in having one of the highest concentrations of organic growers and processors in Canada.

The Organic movement started with small-scale farm growers who believed in healthy, natural, environmentally friendly farming. We have growers in the Valley that have been growing food without toxic chemical inputs for 30 years and longer. These pioneer organic farmers inspired others who moved into the area and began farming organically. They were concerned not only with producing wholesome harvests. They were also determined to improve the quality of the environment that their own food was grown in. Believing that toxic chemical sprays would be harmful to themselves and kill their beneficial insects, whose work they would then inherit, they abandoned the use of pesticides, herbicides and artificial fertilizers. Since healthy soil is the basis for plant health, a strong emphasis on soil building began to develop.

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Environment Awareness



This new attitude that began developing within the farm community coincided with a heightened awareness of toxic chemical inputs and their damage to the environment. Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” was one of the main influences in the increased interest in the concept of organic farming. There were no standards for organic farmers at this point in time and no definition of what an organic farmer was, there was just a persistent notion that if alternatives to toxic chemical controls were sought, they would very likely be found. In the Similkameen Valley, farm workers were becoming more vocal about their poisonous work environment and began to demand that farmers not spray while they were working in the orchard. A new attitude within the “farm workers community” was growing as well and it was represented by the formation of a Farm Workers Union that called for safer working conditions for people working around toxic chemicals commonly used on farms. Shortly after this the WCB developed the pesticide applicators course, which is designed to teach farm workers about safe application of toxic pesticides and other toxic chemical inputs.

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